The Dallas Cowboys’ defensive backs gathered in a circle after practice to hope and pray for good news for cornerback Orlando Scandrick, but the worst was confirmed late Tuesday night.
“It’s just unfortunate,” Scandrick said. “But I’ll be back stronger than ever.”
The starting cornerback will undergo surgery and miss the season after an MRI showed a torn ACL and MCL in his right knee. The exam confirmed his own diagnosis after he went down late in Tuesday’s practice.
“He said immediately ‘It’s my ACL. I know it. It’s gone,’” secondary coach Jerome Henderson said.
Scandrick returned to practice Thursday, having been out since Aug. 6 with a minor knee injury. On Tuesday, Scandrick, who had an interception earlier in the practice with another negated by a defensive penalty, was covering rookie receiver Lucky Whitehead in a team drill. It appeared on replay that Scandrick’s right knee buckled before Whitehead hit him.
Scandrick grabbed his knee as safety Barry Church cursed loudly, while frantically signaling for the medical staff.
“My shoulder pad hit his knee,” Whitehead said, “so I kind of felt it. I know he got me good right here on my hip, so I don’t know if that hit his knee or my shoulder pad hit his knee, but I knew he fell wrong on it.”
Scandrick pulled his jersey over his head as he was carted off. His departure cast a pall on the rest of practice.
His stands as the first major injury of training camp, which began with the first practice July 30 and ends Friday.
“It hurt me because I’ve been in that position before,” said cornerback Morris Claiborne, who missed most of last season with a torn patellar tendon in his left knee. “I know what it feels like to be down, to see everything go away. Man, I’m lost for words.”
Claiborne will take over the right side for Scandrick, with Tyler Patmon in the slot, according to Henderson. The Cowboys also have first-round pick Byron Jones.
“If we do lose a player like that for the season, we hate to do that, but we won’t miss a beat,” Henderson said. “We’ll keep plugging the next guy in. Again, we like our depth at that position. Again, our depth is going to be tested. So we’ll see.”
Cowboys backup quarterback Brandon Weeden has had three concussions in his short NFL career. The worst came Sunday with a hit that didn’t look like much on film, he said.
Weeden left after only nine plays — not counting a play negated by a holding penalty — and five attempts.
“I’m 31 years old, and I don’t want to be 50 and not be able to know my kid’s names, so to me that’s a lot more important than trying to play out one more series in a preseason game,” Weeden said. “It’s not worth it. Super Bowl? A little different deal. … But I’m good, I’m making good progress.”
Defensive tackle Quinton Dial and linebacker Eli Harold sacked Weeden, who said he took a hit in the back of the helmet. The two 49ers players split the sack on a stunt that confused rookie La’el Collins and tackle Darrion Weems.
Weeden returned to the locker room for evaluation and didn’t come back to the sideline. He finished 2-for-5 for 7 yards.
“They hit me in the right spot,” Weeden said. “I’ve had hits where I literally hit my head on the turf, and my ear pads will pop out, and I’m thinking, ‘How in the heck did I get up?’ I’ve had hits where I’ve been hit in the face, and nothing.
“It didn’t look bad on tape, but probably the worst I’ve felt after being hit in the head, which is extremely rare. I think it’s more where you get hit versus how hard the impact is. I’ve had times when I’ve just slammed my head on the back of the turf, and you’d think my helmet was about to shatter. It’s weird; it’s a weird deal.”
Weeden watched the morning walk-through and will have to pass the league’s concussion protocol before he gets back on the field. He doesn’t know if that will come in time for him to play Saturday against the Vikings.
Weeden completed 4 of 5 passes for 42 yards in the exhibition opener against the Chargers. Before his injury sent him off the field Sunday, Weeden had expected to play longer against the 49ers.
“I’ve always said the more, the better,” Weeden said, “but you’ve got to be smart. You look around the league, and injuries are happening everywhere. They’re freak deals. You’ve got to be smart. You can’t replace those game reps. They’ve got a plan. The coaches have a plan, and we’re just going to stick to that.”